Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a Christmas Special produced in Stop Motion puppet animation (called "Animagic") by Rankin/Bass Productions. It was first aired in 1977.The film is narrated by Santa Claus's donkey, Speiltoe, voiced by Roger Miller. He tells the tale of a donkey with abnormally long ears named Nestor, who lived in the days of the Roman Empire. Every animal in the stable disliked Nestor because of his ears. One day the animals in the stable are celebrating the winter solstice. Nestor's mother gives socks to Nestor to cover his ears.That night when Nestor is asleep, soldiers come from The Roman Empire saying they need strong donkeys. They pick a bunch of donkeys, including Nestor, but not his mother. Nestor tries to get away and one of the soldiers grabs the socks on Nestor's ears. They come off. The soldiers thought the owner of the stable was trying to trick them. The owner, Olaf, says he will give them Nestor for free, but the soldiers are angry so they force him to give him all the donkeys for free and do not take Nestor. The soldiers leave. Olaf is angry at Nestor because he did not get any money and at the same time lost all of his donkeys, and he throws Nestor out the door, saying that he doesn't care if Nestor freezes to death and tells him to never come back. Nestor's mother escapes the stable and finds Nestor. There is a blizzard going on outside by then, so Nestor's mother finds shelter and uses her body to cover Nestor up. He wakes up in the morning to find his mother frozen to death. Nestor cries over the loss of his mother and walks away.A little while later, something falls out of the sky. It looks like a little girl, but a little girl would freeze to death in the blizzard. The being says she's a cherub, calling herself Tilly. She says they need to travel to Bethlehem, but she cannot tell Nestor why. Tilly also says it will take a long time to get there. They travel for many months across distant lands and even a sea. When they get finally get to the outskirts of Bethlehem, Tilly tells Nestor to stay there. Nestor finds a stable to stay in and still nobody will buy him.One day a couple comes in. Their names are Mary and Joseph. Mary is expecting a child, so she cannot walk the miles to Bethlehem and they do not have much money. They take Nestor because of his "gentle eyes". Mary rides Nestor to Bethlehem and they find a stable to stay in. Mary gives birth to Jesus and Nestor finds his way back to the stable where he was born. When he returns home, he is considered a hero and all the animals become friends with him.Compare with Disney's theatrical release The Small One for a somewhat similar premise.
- Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Kind of? The crooked donkey salesman looks at Mary, and her aura of holiness compels him to give Nestor to her for free. Once they leave, he wonders why on earth he did that.
- Christmas Special - With all the cute animals and angels, one might think this a cheery, happy kind of special but it really isn't.
- Easily Forgiven - At the end, Nestor goes home to the donkey breeder, who kicked him out into the cold, and the other animals who made fun of him, and seems perfectly happy to see them all.
- Ethereal Choir: Actually a plot point; Nestor's large ears let him hear the singing angels despite the sandstorm making it impossible to see, thus guiding him to Bethlehem.
- Expy: Nestor is arguably one of Rudolph.
- Fantastic Religious Weirdness
- Jerkass - Pretty much everyone is this to Nestor, except his mom, Tilly, Joseph, and Mary.
- Kids Are Cruel
- Missing Mom: She pulls a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Our Angels Are Different: Apparently "angels" visit humans, while "cherubs" visit animals.
- Star of Bethlehem
- Stop Motion
- Talking Animal
The RiffTrax of this Christmas special has examples of:
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Mike's use of the word "ass."
- Running Gag: Jokes about how crappy Nestor's life is.